Thursday, November 8, 2012

8 November 1913: Veteran "Plainly and Harmlessly Drunk" Not Charged

On this day in 1913, the Athens Banner relayed this story about a police officer who took pity on one of their arrested men:

(click to enlarge image)

The "iron badge of honor" likely refers to the Southern Cross of Honor bestowed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, starting in 1900. Few Confederate medals were awarded during the Civil War due to metal shortages, and at veterans reunion in Atlanta in 1898, Mary Ann Lamar Cobb Erwin proposed the UDC bestow honor medals to veterans. Sarah E. Gabbett of Atlanta designed the medal, which was approved the following year by the UDC. 

The first medal was awarded to Mrs. Erwin's husband, Judge Alexander S. Erwin of Athens, who had fought at Gettysburg during the war. The Cobb-Deloney Confederate Veterans passed a resolution that the Judge receive "the No. 1 medal," "this gift of honor to southern heroism and true Confederate gallantry."  

The UDC awarded crosses to 78,761 men between 1900 and 1913. It was against the law in some states (and still in Virginia) to wear a Southern Cross of Honor not bestowed to you, so the "unknown man" was probably a veteran of the Civil War, one who, like many, fell on hard times in the following years. 

Typically, a 360 violation cost the offender a $5.00 fine plus $1.25 in court costs, equivalent to $146.00 today. Many violators would pay such a fine over a period of weeks, $1 or $2 at a time. Those who did not have a steady income would be forced to work off the fine at 50 cents per day on public works projects in town, such as paving roads or installing the city's sewer system.

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